Culture of Hoops

Rudy Gay Off to Hot Start for Kings; Trade Rumors Heat Up

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Michael Tipton/Flickr.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Sacramento Kings are off to a mediocre 2-3 record early in the season but their small forward Rudy Gay has gotten off to a hot start, increasing his trade value. This is great news for the Kings considering the disgruntled Gay has already informed the team that he will not pick up his player option this offseason and will indeed test free agency. With a number of teams in need of a swingman of Gay’s caliber sooner rather than later, the Kings should pull the trigger on a trade as soon as possible and continue to move in a new direction with a new stadium and new head coach Dave Joerger.

Gay, who is averaging 23.8 points, six rebounds and 2.4 assists over the first five games of the season, is coming off of a 30 point, 12 rebound performance in a loss at Miami. Although it’s very early in the season, what has been most impressive about Gay’s start are his well above-average shooting numbers. His 51% field goal shooting trumps his career average of 45%, while his 42% from beyond the arc has been a tremendous increase over his career 34% lifetime average.

There are a handful of already good teams that could use Gay’s skillset, length and versatility. Obviously the Oklahoma City Thunder come to mind after losing arguably the best player in the league in Kevin Durant. While Gay is surely not KD, he would help the Thunder out immensely and, alongside Russell Westbrook, make them a dangerous team again.

There are rumors swirling that OKC is indeed interested and that this week’s swap of Ersan Ilyasova for Jerami Grant was to both temporarily fill the lacking small forward hole and to clear up cap space for a possible acquisition of Gay.

Another team that lacks a small forward and has for years is the Los Angeles Clippers, but the question is what do they have to offer Sacramento? The better Gay plays, the higher the price tag and Los Angeles doesn’t appear to have the assets.

But what about a third party? The Kings are desperate for a point guard who isn’t currently in legal troubles and have been, for some reason, linked to Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio for years now. A highly invested trade for Rubio reeks of the Vivek Ranadivé era.

One other possibility, as was discussed over the offseason and then again by the media on Tuesday night with the Kings in Miami, is a deal that would send Gay to the Heat for point guard Goran Dragic.

Both Joerger and Heat head coach Eric Spoelstra denied any such rumors. “It’s part of the business,” Joerger said. “I don’t know who puts that stuff out there. What source? Pick a source. I’m not going to sit here and speculate.” He later added, “(Gay’s) a wonderful human being who’s grown as a player and a leader. He likes it here. We all want to win a little bit more. There’s going to be rumors.”

For now all Gay can do is continue to play his game and help his teammates. He is no stranger to trade rumors as it feels like they have been following him for a majority of the 30-year-old’s 10-year career. When asked about the rumors during training camp, Gay replied, “I hear it. I’ve been traded before. If I came here as if I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t help my teammates. That’s a league thing. That’s not just me. That’s something you don’t want a reputation for.”

The Kings continue their five game road trip on Thursday evening with a stop in Orlando where they take on the 1-3 Magic at 4PM Pacific Time.

Follow Rich Peters on Twitter and Instagram.

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